My talks

In this workshop, Marcia introduces a technique for eliminating filler words (and sentences and paragraphs) and creating tighter, more engaging text. This technique takes the guesswork out of concise writing by showing exactly what to look for. Once you’ve got this technique down, you’ll know how to do the following:

  • Increase keyword density.
  • Cut translation costs.
  • Polish your writing to a 24-carat, attention-grabbing luster.

BONUS: Marcia uses a spreadsheet to “do the math” in real time, showing how much tight writing can cut translation costs.



Photo by Karen Ronning-Hall

What Attendees Say

be-verbs tweet

how to write without be-verbs

  • Robin Whitmore: “I first encountered Marcia at a seminar she gave and was so excited by her methods that I immediately put them to use. And although they are easy to remember and follow, I bought the book so I can always verify that I’m writing the best, most concise content that I can. The book is easy to use as a reference tool, but like the author herself, is engaging enough to read, and reread, front-to-back. I’m so enamored of her and her methodology, that I’ve asked her to come and do a seminar for all my fellow employees. Can’t wait to see the results in our doc set!”
  • Michelle W: … and then “my inner Marcia kicked in.” More →
  • Amy Brown: “Marcia … argues that wordiness is bad when paying for translation and when people are reading on small screens, but editors everywhere know that concise writing is easier to read and comprehend.” More →
  • Andrew Nhem: “Marcia let us in on her secret list of ‘no-no’ words that we can cut from our documents. That list definitely stuck with me … I believe everyone walked out of [this] talk with a bigger respect for concise writing.” More →
  • OneoftheMichelles: “This is good…esp: ‘Can’t make the instructions concise? Maybe the thing you’re explaining needs to change?'” More →
  • HumbleOnion: “Great presentation … It led me to reexamine my own writing style – highly recommended.” More →
  • Shelly Ericksen, Content Marketing Manager at RMS: “I learned so much from your workshop (case in point: just reduced a document word count by 25%).”
  • Julie Fast: “I’ve been a professional speaker for a long time. In ninety minutes, you have profoundly changed the way I write.”
  • Marshall Ennis: “My students—who called [this technique] ‘hard work’—were impressed when reading back their revised drafts. They found their revised sentences ‘clearer’ and ‘more confident sounding.’ One student said that the tool helped her sound ‘more professional.'”
  • Thelma Valdez: “The July 1 webinar was one of the best I’ve attended in recent memory because it was short and focused primarily on a single technique. I immediately started watching out for be-verbs and what a revelation! I love small things that effect big changes! I was so pleased and impressed that I bought the Nook version of Word Up. I read a few chapters and can see that my writing is headed for even more improvement!”




Marcia presenting

Marcia presenting at the Write the Docs conference just minutes before she and conference co-organizer Eric Holscher burst into a spontaneous rendition of “Oh, the Tech Writer and the Programmer Can Be Frii-eends.”

Video—Write the Docs 2013 (Presentation)

Video—Write the Docs 2014 (Lightning Talk)

Video— “Teach Your Text to Strip”

Eddie VanArsdall | How to write

I simply love Word Up! It gives me ideas about my own direction. Marcia was smart to write it as a series of essays rather than attempting to create a formal style guide. She has a unique voice. I’m glad she let us hear it.
—Eddie VanArsdall, author of Content Insomnia blog

“Brevity is not only the soul of wit, but the soul of making oneself agreeable and of getting on with people, and, indeed, of everything that makes life worth living. So precious a thing, however, cannot be got without more expense and trouble than most of us have the moral wealth to lay out.”
—Samuel Butler, The Note-Books of Samuel Butler 98 (1912; repr. 1926).

Last modified: April 18, 2024

14 thoughts on “My talks

  1. This sounds wonderful, and I know you have valuable insights to teach. I hope it is well attended.

  2. Thanks, Amy. Yes, I’ll be doing this presentation again (sans workshop). See new info above.

  3. Hi Marcia, I thoroughly enjoyed your presentation today. I’ve been writing since the early 80’s, but you are the first presenter that I have ever heard convey my own experience. I have to write through a concept to learn it. So, of course, what comes out of my brain first is a “flabby” jumble of words. My favorite part of writing is the editing iterations where I can get rid of unnecessary words, sentences–and yes, even topics! It’s very satisfying to cut text of a new deliverable by a third, isn’t it?

  4. Susan, I’m glad you got enough value from our hour together–despite the technical difficulties–to seek out my site and leave this note. Your message does my heart good. Thank you!

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